About 6 years ago, I purchased an Olympus 550UZ super-zoom camera to better document my travels and record precious memories. The camera took great pictures, but what I loved most about it was that it had 18x optical zoom. At that time, super-zoom cameras were fairly fresh on the market, and in my humble opinion they were ideal for any traveler. I loved everything about this camera except the fact that it required 4 AA batteries, rather than a rechargeable lithium battery like many other cameras had. The camera seemed to just chew through AA batteries in no time and of course the batteries would always die at the most inopportune time. I learned very early on that I always needed to carry several packs of AA batteries as spares, but by the time I changed the batteries, the moment would have most certainly passed and the opportunity for my perfect shot was gone. I had been complaining about this battery problem for long enough, so it was finally time to purchase an upgrade. At first, Rob wasn’t really on board with this “unnecessary” added expense since our Olympus camera still worked. But then I ran this silly half-marathon and I suggested that I deserved a camera upgrade as a reward for completing my first half-marathon. He couldn’t really argue with me there….and so, the search for my new camera began.
I am not interested in a fancy DSLR camera for several reasons. First of all, they are expensive and definitely above my price point. Second, they are way too heavy. I am not interested in lugging around a huge camera bag while traveling and having to switch out lenses for different shots. Third (and probably most important), I am not a professional photographer. As an amateur, I really don’t want to inundate myself with manual settings, ISOs and apertures. I am more of a “point and shoot” kind of gal.
I am also not interested in a super compact digital camera. Many travelers prefer to use pocket-sized digital cameras while they are on the go. I can definitely see the allure of being able to fit your camera in your pocket rather than carrying around a camera bag, but I doubt those tiny cameras would live up to my expectations.
So, my camera upgrade is definitely going to be a super-zoom “bridge” camera (bridges the gap between compact and DSLR). The super-zoom cameras have advanced in leaps and bounds since I bought my first one 6 years ago. My old camera with 18x optical zoom was a breakthrough camera back in the day. Current super-zoom cameras average about 30x optical zoom, but some of them even go as high as 50x optical zoom! Those specifications are incredible! However, 50x optical zoom seemed a bit excessive for my needs and would likely add to the weight of the camera that I would be lugging around the world. So I started my research with these basic specifications in mind:
1. Rechargeable Lithium battery with good reviews on battery life
2. Upgrade in megapixels (Olympus 550UZ was 7.1 MP)
3. Upgrade optical zoom (Olympus 550UZ was 18x)
4. Prefer tilting or fully articulated LCD screen
With these criteria in mind, I came up with the Canon PowerShot SX40, Sony CyberShot HX200V, Nikon CoolPix P510, and Panasonic Lumix FZ200. I spent many hours across several days researching all 4 of these cameras. I asked for advice from friends and photographers alike. I read online reviews until my eyes were about to bleed. I agonized over every last detail. I finally made my decision and ordered my shiny new camera. I don’t want to reveal which one I picked until I have received it and get the opportunity to test it out. But in the meantime, I would love to know which camera you would have chosen and why. What type of camera do you prefer to use while traveling?